Time Management

Tools and Methods for Everyday Work

Time, we seldom have it and often we need more of it, especially in our everyday working life.

Who knows it? One meeting follows the next, several new, unread e-mails are already piling up in the inbox and the presentation for next Friday’s meeting still has to be prepared. This list could probably be continued endlessly and in the end only means one thing: stress!

The negative effects of stress on ourselves but also on our work performance have long been known and scientifically proven. So what to do?

The magic word (as banal as it may sound) can be called “time management”. This refers to the ability to optimally plan, coordinate and implement upcoming appointments and tasks. Although time management is not a panacea for stress in everyday working life, it can provide considerable relief if applied correctly.

Individual time management is essentially influenced by 2 factors: the professional task requirements and personal inclinations.

For example, the attention shift can be assigned to the former. This states that any interruption of the current activity results in a 100% cooling of performance. For example, if we want to create a presentation, but are repeatedly interrupted by e-mails and phone calls, we will most likely need much longer than if we have the opportunity to work on it undisturbed.

The personal performance curve, for example, can be assigned to the latter. This states that the performance of each individual fluctuates throughout the day. For example, some people are more productive than average in the early morning, but then find it difficult to perform in the afternoon. Whereas some others only reach their peak performance in the late afternoon.

In order to improve individual time management, a variety of tools and methods can be used. The following chart shows some of these tools and methods, but the collection does not claim to be complete.

Without going into detail about all concepts, I will briefly introduce 3 selected methods that have helped me personally in my everyday consulting work.

Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law states that we always need exactly the time for a task that we have available. So it is better to make an ambitious project plan than a project plan with too much buffer time.

Pareto principle

The Pareto principle states that 80% of the result can be achieved with just 20% of the effort. However, to achieve the remaining 20% of the result, 80% of the effort is required. The trick now is to identify the said 20% of the result that causes the majority of the effort. Furthermore, the Pareto Principle is a good remedy against perfectionism, because in most cases the 80% of the result is already enough to satisfy everyone involved.

2-Minute Rule

The 2-minute rule states that we should best complete tasks that take no longer than 2-minutes immediately. This protects us from small issues (e.g. answering mail briefly) taking up too much space in our heads.

It is not possible to make a general statement about which tools and methods suit you best. The rule here is: Just try them out! Detailed explanations of all methods mentioned here can be found relatively quickly on the Internet.